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The 5-man army that slayed Pakistan

June 17, 2019 14:34 IST

A dominant Indian team routed Pakistan at Old Trafford on Sunday, June 16, to maintain an unbeaten World Cup run against their arch-rivals.

Riding on Rohit Sharma's century and Kuldeep Yadav's excellent bowling, India inflicted a 89 run defeat via the Duckworth-Lewis method in a lop-sided encounter at Old Trafford in Manchester.

Pakistan elected to bowl in overcast conditions, but Rohit thwarted all their plans with a brilliant 140 from 113 balls. Virat Kohli scored a fluent 77 to power the two-time champions to 336/5.

In reply, Kuldeep's double strike in the middle overs saw Pakistan finish with a disappointing 212/6 after the match was reduced to 40 overs following rain.

India's five key performers:

 

1. Rohit continues good run

Rohit Sharma

Photograph: Andrew Boyers/Action Images via Reuters

The vice-captain has taken upon himself the responsibility to lay a solid foundation for the team.

English conditions are difficult for batting in the early overs, especially when taking strike first, and that is where Rohit has brought all his experience into play.

He has looked to play out the new ball before building the total in the middle overs; his safety-first approach has seen him hit two centuries and a fifty in the first three games of the World Cup.

In the all-important game against Pakistan, he had an extra burden on his shoulders with regular partner Shikhar Dhawan ruled out because of injury.

The Mumbai batsman carried on his golden run with the bat, hitting a fluent 140 from 113 balls, without barely breaking a sweat.

In fact, he looked good for another double century and had ample time in hand, but gave his wicket away attempting a strange paddle sweep in the 38th over.

He did well to guide K L Rahul in the early overs as the duo grinded out the opening spell from Pakistan's pacers and made hay later against the lesser-known bowlers.

 

2. Rahul provides opening balance

KL Rahul

Photograph: Andrew Boyers/Action Images via Reuters

After two innings at No 4, he was drafted in to open the innings in place of Dhawan, who has been ruled out for a few games.

Rahul responded to his team's call brilliantly with an important half-century against Pakistan. His technique against the Pakistani pacers was impressive as he resisted chasing anything wide and blunted the new ball effectively before scoring a vital 57, laying the foundation for India as the openers added 136 runs in just 143 deliveries.

From that stage, there was no looking back for the Indians.

 

3. Kohli leads from the front

Virat Kohli

Photograph: Andrew Boyers/Action Images via Reuters

The captain made sure the middle order did not waste the good work of the openers. He batted cleverly, deftly placing the ball in the gaps and converting ones into twos to run the Pakistan fielders ragged.

The Pakistanis, not known for their fielding abilities, looked helpless against this facet of Kohli's game as he got the runs coming at a good pace with ones and twos without relying much on the boundaries.

India hit just one six between the 27th and the 50th overs, but still post a huge 336, scoring 164 in the last 20 overs, with 16 fours and one six.

Kohli cruised to 77 from 65 balls, scoring just seven fours.

 

4. Kuldeep strikes form

Kuldeep Yadav

Photograph: Michael Steele/Getty Images

Another impressive aspect of Kohli's captaincy is backing his players to the hilt.

Kuldeep Yadav did not have a good IPL and was dropped for the last few games by the Kolkata Knight Riders.

Kohli believes in the young spinner's ability. Kuldeep, who has been impressive across all three formats in the last year or so, was drafted in the playing XI ahead of Ravindra Jadeja.

He started off steadily, taking 1/46 against South Africa, but went for runs (55 in nine overs) against Australia. Still, Kohli picked him for the all-important game against Pakistan.

Kuldeep responded to his captain's faith brilliantly with a game-defining spell in the middle overs.

Pakistan threatened briefly courtesy Fakhar Zaman (62) and Babar Azam (48), who put on 104 runs for the third wicket before Kuldeep sent the well-set batsmen packing in successive overs.

Babar was done in by a beauty from Kuldeep, which has already been hailed as 'the ball of the century'.

He drew the right-hander forward with a flighted delivery which turned sharply through the gap between pad and bat to crash into the stumps.

Zaman also perished to Kuldeep's guile as he went for the sweep to a flighted delivery but only lofted a simple catch to short fine leg.

Kuldeep returned wonderful figures of 2/32 in nine overs.

 

5. All-rounders Shankar, Pandya's crucial contributions

Photograph: BCCI/Twitter

Vijay Shankar's inclusion for the Pakistan game startled many. He struggled with the bat, not only failing to turn the strike over to Kohli, but also scoring just one boundary in 15 balls at the end.

But Shankar bounced back with the ball. He claimed a wicket with his first ball in the World Cup, dismissing Imam-ul Haq leg before.

After bowling some decent overs with the new ball, he bowled Sarfaraz Ahmed to finish with 2/22.

Hardik Pandya scored a quick 26 from 19 balls, then sent back the experienced duo of Mohammad Hafeez and Shoaib Malik off successive deliveries to end Pakistan's challenge.

HARISH KOTIAN / Rediff.com
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